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In Illinois, driving without insurance can be considered a petty offense or a class A misdemeanor depending on the situation. While first-time offenders may receive a traffic citation and a fine, repeat offenses or causing an accident or bodily injury to another person can result in more substantial penalties, such as a license suspension and $2,500 in fines. Another side-effect of driving uninsured is how it can negatively impact your future car insurance premiums. Bankrate’s insurance editorial team has compiled some information that Illinois drivers need to know about driving without insurance—or sharing the road with uninsured drivers.
Minimum insurance required in Illinois
The minimum coverage requirements for your vehicle to be street-legal differ in each state. Drivers in The Prairie State must have at least the following limits for bodily injury, property damage and uninsured motorist coverage:
- $25,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
- $50,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
- $20,000 of property damage liability coverage
- $25,000 of uninsured motorist bodily injury liability coverage per person
- $50,000 of uninsured motorist bodily injury liability coverage per accident
You may see the bodily injury and property damage limits written as 25/50/20 and the uninsured motorist coverage limits written as 25/50 in your insurance policy documents. While this is the minimum coverage needed to drive, many insurance professionals recommend carrying higher liability limits if your budget allows. The effects of inflation have impacted everything from the price of cars to the cost of medical care — meaning a minimum coverage policy may not offer you enough financial protection in the event of a multi-car accident.
Penalties for driving without insurance in Illinois
Beginning in 2020, the Secretary of State will begin an Electronic Liability Insurance Verification program for vehicles registered in Illinois. All car insurance providers authorized to conduct business in the state are linked electronically to this system. Per Illinois state Mandatory Insurance Law 625 ILCS 5/3-707, all vehicles with valid registration must carry the required insurance coverage to avoid the following possible penalties:
Paying a fine
The first offense of driving without insurance in Illinois is considered a petty offense, and drivers may be fined at least $500 but no more than $1,000. For a driver convicted of uninsured driving three times or more, the fine may increase to $1000. However, it is considered a class A misdemeanor if you are uninsured and cause an accident where bodily injuries are sustained. In this instance, you could receive fines up to $2,500 plus additional fees and possible imprisonment. In most cases, drivers who can prove they had an active insurance policy when issued a ticket for driving with no insurance will not have to pay a fine, while drivers who are able to acquire an insurance policy in time for court might have their fine reduced to $100.
Your license can be suspended for up to three months if you are a first-time offender and up to an additional six months or more if you are a repeat offender or are caught driving during the suspension period. The typical license reinstatement fee in Illinois is $100.
According to amended state law 625 ILCS 5/4-203, if you get caught driving without insurance in Illinois, the police are legally allowed to tow and impound your vehicle. The fees to store your vehicle at the impound site can rack up quickly, so it’s important to get your insurance straightened immediately. Failure to do so could end with your vehicle being eventually repossessed.
Higher insurance premiums
If you get caught driving without insurance in Illinois, then you will likely be seen as a high-risk driver by insurance companies. When you search for insurance in Illinois, you will likely pay higher rates because of your lapse in coverage. Some carriers may even refuse to insure a driver with a lapse in coverage on their record.
If you are caught driving without insurance multiple times and receive court supervision, you will eventually be required to get an SR-22 insurance certificate for at least three years, possibly more. SR-22 is a special insurance certificate reported to the state every month to verify that you carry the minimum amount of insurance mandated by Illinois. If you do not keep up with the SR-22 requirements, the state can suspend your license.
Getting into an accident without insurance
If you are an Illinois driver involved in an accident and are uninsured, you could face several penalties, including an additional fine and suspension of your driver’s license. In Illinois, what happens to an uninsured driver who gets into an accident is based on who was at fault for the accident.
Illinois law states that modified comparative negligence is the standard for determining fault and recovering damages. This means you can only recover damages from the other party if you are less than 50 percent at fault in the accident.
So, if you were less than 50 percent at fault, you could file a third-party claim through the more at-fault driver’s insurance for any bodily injuries or property damage. However, if you were at fault for the accident, the other driver’s uninsured motorist coverage will have to cover what your insurance would have paid them. While it could take several months for the claim to go through, once it does, the driver’s insurance company is likely to attempt to collect the losses by filing a lawsuit against you.
Getting into an accident with an uninsured driver
Drivers looking to mitigate their financial loss from potentially being hit by an uninsured driver may want to ask their agent about increasing their uninsured motorist coverage. This coverage can provide payments toward costs related to medical bills for you and your passengers if hit by an uninsured driver. As stated earlier, Illinois law requires drivers to hold 25/50 of uninsured motorist coverage, but drivers can always opt to increase their limits if they want more robust financial protection.
Another option is medical payments coverage. This optional coverage also helps with the medical costs associated with an accident. However, you and your passengers can use medical payments coverage regardless of who is at fault for the accident.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, roughly 11.8 percent of Illinois drivers are uninsured. Based on this risk assessment, it may be a smart idea to consider customizing an insurance policy with these coverage types to protect your finances from a potential accident with an uninsured motorist.
Frequently asked questions
If you are caught driving without insurance, you may face several penalties. However, providing false insurance information could result in even more serious fines and jail time. The fine can be as much as $2,000 and up to six months in jail.
The average cost of car insurance in Illinois is $1,806 per year for full coverage and $552 for minimum coverage. Car insurance in Illinois is typically slightly cheaper than the national average, which is $2,014 per year for full coverage and $622 for minimum coverage. Your actual car insurance rates may vary and will be based on several factors, such as driving record, age and your credit-based insurance score.
It is unlikely you will go to jail solely for driving without insurance. For a first offense, you will be fined up to $1,000. If you drive without insurance and are caught again, you can pay another fine and then have your license suspended for several months. However, jail time is possible if you cause bodily injury to another person while driving uninsured and you have repeated uninsured infractions on your record.
Under Illinois’ modified comparative negligence system, you’ll be able to recover damages from the more at-fault driver even without insurance. But that doesn’t mean you’re entirely off the hook. If the other driver were 70 percent at fault, you would still be responsible for paying for the other 30 percent of your damages out of pocket. In addition, you will also be subject to legal penalties for driving without insurance.